Alex Rowley

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Alex Rowley
Rowley in 2020
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
29 August 2017 – 15 November 2017
UK party leaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byKezia Dugdale
Succeeded byJackie Baillie (acting)
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
In office
15 August 2015 – 16 December 2017
LeaderKezia Dugdale
Preceded byKezia Dugdale
Succeeded byLesley Laird
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Cowdenbeath
In office
23 January 2014 – 23 March 2016
Preceded byHelen Eadie
Succeeded byAnnabelle Ewing
Scottish Labour portfolios
2016–2017Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Community, Social Security and Equalities
2018–2019Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government
2019–2020Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Brexit and the Constitution
2021–presentShadow Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity
Personal details
Born (1963-11-30) 30 November 1963 (age 59)
Dunfermline, Scotland, UK
Political partyScottish Labour
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
WebsiteOfficial website

Alexander Andrew Penman Rowley (born 30 November 1963) is a Scottish politician who served as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party from 2015 to 2017 and acting leader of the party from August to November 2017. He has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) since 2014, firstly for the Cowdenbeath constituency and the Mid Scotland and Fife region since 2016. He has been described as being on the political left of the party.

Born in Dunfermline, Rowley studied community education at the University of Edinburgh before serving as General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party and a Fife councillor. First elected to the Scottish Parliament at a by-election in January 2014, he lost Cowdenbeath to Annabelle Ewing of the SNP at the 2016 election. However, he was returned as an additional member for Mid Scotland and Fife.

Following the resignation of Kezia Dugdale, he served as acting Leader of the Scottish Labour Party during the 2017 Scottish Labour leadership election. He served as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government from 2018 to 2019 and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Brexit and Constitutional Relations from 2019 to 2020. He is currently Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

Early life[edit]

Born in Dunfermline and raised in Kelty, Rowley was educated at St Columba's High School in Dunfermline.[1] He studied for an MA Honours in sociology and politics at Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith and the University of Edinburgh and later for an MSc in community education at Edinburgh.[2]

Political career[edit]

Rowley was General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party for one year; from May 1998 to May 1999. He was first elected to Fife Regional Council in 1990 when he was Chairman of Finance, and he later became the first leader of the new Fife Council, a position he returned to in 2012 until his election to the Scottish Parliament in 2014.[citation needed]

Prior to his election to the Scottish Parliament, Rowley was a Fife councillor (re-elected in 2007) and Labour Council Group Leader.[3] He worked as an education official with the TUC and worked for five years as an assistant, election agent and constituency manager to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. On the political left-wing of the party, he was considered Brown's right-hand man and protégé.[4][5][6] He stood in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election as a Labour candidate for Dunfermline.

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party[edit]

Rowley declared his candidacy for the Scottish Labour Party's 2015 deputy leadership election, and was supported in his candidacy by trade unions ASLEF, CWU, NUM, Scottish Co-Operative Party, Socialist Health Association, TSSA, UCATT, and UNISON. He comfortably won the first round preferences of votes from the labour party membership and secured victory with over half the votes in the second round of voting. He was elected on 15 August 2015.[7] Following Kezia Dugdale's resignation, he took over as acting Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, until the new leader was elected.[8]

In September 2017, a leaked recording that was taken without permission and sold to The Scottish Sun of Rowley at the Brighton Labour Party Conference led to accusations of a plot to oust Dugdale and replace her with Richard Leonard. Rowley said he backed Leonard to become leader to a member of the public, as well as party member, in a conversation that turned out to be a freelance journalist secretly recording the conversation undercover. Rowley had stated he would remain neutral, however was unaware of being recorded by what turned out to be a journalist trying to sell a story. He apologised for the leaked recording, but strenuously denied being involved in or even aware of any plots within the labour party to remove Dugdale.[9]

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

Rowley was Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government from October 2018 until September 2019.[10] During the 2019 Scottish budget process, Rowley was reprimanded by the Scottish Labour leader due to Rowley's personal discussions with the SNP Finance Secretary about supporting the budget in exchange for cuts to local government being substituted for Higher Education cuts in breach of Scottish Labour Party policy and undermining the budget spokesperson James Kelly.[11]

Rowley became Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Brexit and Constitutional Relations in September 2019.[12] In November 2020, he was moved to the role of shadow economy minister.[13] He nominated Monica Lennon in the 2021 Scottish Labour leadership election.[14] After Anas Sarwar won the leadership election, he promoted Rowley to Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Rowley has three grown-up children, and also has a granddaughter. He is the father of Danielle Rowley, who was elected as MP for Midlothian at the 2017 general election.

On 15 November 2017, Rowley resigned as deputy leader and referred himself to an internal investigation after a former partner took to the Scottish Sun to accuse him of sending her disrespectful text messages four years previously.[16] Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and leadership candidate Anas Sarwar called for Rowley to be suspended from the party while the investigation was carried out.[17][18] Rowley claimed there was a determined attempt to use the media to damage him and his family for political purposes. The investigation concluded there was no case to answer as the party had not received a formal complaint. A party spokesperson added: "The party was approached by newspapers with unsubstantiated claims, with no evidence shared with the Labour party prior to publication in the Sun newspaper."[19]


  1. ^ "School Visits – Alex Rowley MSP". 18 December 2020. Archived from the original on 18 December 2020.
  2. ^ "BMMS May 1999". Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Labour denies London control claim". BBC News.
  4. ^ "Home of the Daily and Sunday Express". 1 May 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  5. ^ Jack O'Sullivan Scotland Correspondent (21 May 1999). "Parliament: Scotland: Labour sacks Scots party chief". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Kezia Dugdale steps down as Scottish Labour's leader". The Economist. 2 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Dugdale named Scottish Labour leader". BBC News. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Kezia Dugdale quits as Scottish Labour leader". 29 August 2017 – via
  9. ^ "Rowley 'gutted' over leadership row tape". 28 September 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet". Scottish Labour. 4 October 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Scottish Labour leader urged to sack colleague over Budget 'humiliation'". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Scottish Labour reshuffle as Sarah Boyack returns to frontline politics". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Anas Sarwar returns to Labour frontbench in reshuffle". STV News. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Scottish Leadership Election 2021 – Nominations". Scottish Labour. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  15. ^ Rodgers, Sienna (1 March 2021). "Sarwar unveils new 'campaign cabinet' to lead Scottish Labour into election". LabourList. Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Alex Rowley steps down as interim Scottish Labour leader". Holyrood Website. 4 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  17. ^ Eardley, Nick [@nickeardleybbc] (15 November 2017). "Kezia Dugdale says Alex Rowley should be suspended by party" (Tweet). Retrieved 4 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ Samson, Kathryn [@STVKathryn] (15 November 2017). "@AnasSarwar calls for Alex Rowley to be suspended while investigation carried out." (Tweet). Retrieved 4 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "Labour received "no formal complaint" about Alex Rowley". Holyrood Magazine. 16 November 2017. Archived from the original on 21 April 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Succeeded by
Lesley Laird (interim)
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Succeeded by